Interviewee Profile

Name: Tsering Chonphel
(Alias: No)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 77

Date of Birth: 1935

Birthplace: Shungpa, Utsang, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1959

Profession: Nomad, Salt Trade

Monk/Nun: Currently

Political Prisoner: No

Interview Details

Interview No.: 35D

Date: 2012-05-14

Language: Tibetan

Location: Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India

Categories: Culture and History

Keywords: childhood memories, Chinese -- first appearance of, escape experiences, herding, nomadic life, refugee in Nepal -- life as, salt trade, songs/opera, taxes, trade, Utsang


Tsering Chonphel fondly remembers his "blissful life" in a beautiful land of snow-covered mountains, huge pasturelands and rivers. He came from a nomadic family with a large number of sheep, goats, yaks and horses. He gives us a glimpse of a nomad's life which required the family to move three times in winter and three times in summer. They lived in a tent made of yak hair and spent their days herding the animals. Tsering Chonphel learned many songs as a child and exhibits a sample by singing a song in praise of the sky, earth and home. He proudly says that he has taught many songs at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in Dharamsala, India.

Tsering Chonphel describes the gathering of wool, which was then traded for sugar, apricots and other goods brought by Indian traders. His older brothers also harvested salt and borax from a large lake. The salt was traded in India, while the borax was sent to China. They paid three forms of tax to the Tibetan government, including "tax for cuisine on the table" of the Dalai Lama.

Tsering Chonphel recalls the Chinese first appeared in his region from Xinjiang in 1950. He describes their poor condition and the premonitions of the elders that something bad was going to happen. The Chinese demand on the Tibetans to surrender their weapons prompted the district official to take flight and were joined by the villagers. Tsering Chonphel gives a detailed account the group's difficult journey through the snow to Nepal.

Interview Team:

  • Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
  • Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
  • Pema Tashi (Videographer)
Interview Video

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Tsering Chonphel on 5/14/2012

Length: 01:25:03

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